Martin Hollow, Virginia
May 11, 2014, 9:42 AM
A cool breeze blew through the rural Appalachian forests of Southwestern Virginia while overall a warm feeling emanated throughout the spring air around the huntress. I actually thing you should turn this around. I actually like the opening description, but as you introduce the huntress so quickly, why not have her take centre stage:
"The huntress stepped from her trailer into the warm spring air as a cool breeze blew through the rural Appalachian forest."
Better yet, tell us her name:
"Louise Gardner stepped from her trailer into the warm spring air as a cool breeze blew through the rural Appalachian forest." (I just put in a random name)
She was hunting run-of-the-mill varmints this time, whether it be rats, squirrels, crows, rabbits, coyotes, or whatever else she could hit with her pistol. It was a Glock 19., cost her about five hundred dollars, but it was a cool, yet reliable 9mm handgun.
I removed "This time" because it doesn't add anything for me. It seems to reference back to something that's not happened. See coat's notes above for this and my input. However, I'm thinking - does the cost matter? Is it going to impact the story, or is it an unnecessary detail. Is $500 a lot for a pistol or is that a bargain? I'd consider whether this is needed (if you want us to have this information, fine), but also, if it's important enough for us to know the price - why? Tell us if it was a steal, or a rip off.
It was neither legal nor effective in taking down deer or turkeys, but for vermin, it was good enough. The cold, black metal and polymer firearm was her weapon of choice to bring down the annoying nuisance animals.
Two things 1 - note coat's input above, and my own. 2 - "bring down the annoying nuisance animals" - annoying AND nuisance are not both needed as they - to me at least - say the same thing; pests. Also, that's the implication you're making - she's killing pests. Yes, they might be pests, but if she's hunting for sport, be weary of hinting that she's simply clearing them out.
The huntress had stepped out of her trailer and into her grassy, wooded yard in the hollow.,
TBH, I would have this detail right at the beginning. It's kind of a back track, and as the example i showed, I think it'd be better at the beginning. To share with you some of Eminence's advice, think what you'd see first in you were watching - you'd see her exit the trailer first. But, if you didn't see her exit the trailer, how would an onlooker know that? I think it'd be a stronger image to have her exit the trailer at the very start, personally.
She carried carrying her gun, some bullets, and a sixpack of Diet Pepsi.
I think Coat went into this so i won't mention what he did. But "sixpack of diet pepsi"
She's hunting AND carrying a sixpack of pepsi? I'm not getting a vibe of serious hunter from her - perhaps that's your intention. Why would she not carry a hip flask or something a little better? Is this a personal choice for her, or is this common place in america? Is she new at hunting? Earlier you hinting that this was not her first hunting trip - so is she experienced? Is she a survivalist, or a novice? Perhaps these will be answered as we carry on, or perhaps these are questions you want me asking!
For some reason, she felt like hunting today. It was not the season for traditional game hunting, but varmints were always fair game on one's own property, especially if your property was in the middle of bumf*ck nowhere and you had some weapons, money, and supplies.
When is the season for traditional game hunting? - Not critiquing here, i'm curious!
Also, as i think Coat said, why does she feel like hunting. "for some reason" translates to me as "I have no idea why, but she is," or "I cba to think of why" - and believe me, i've done that a lot.
So why does she feel like hunting? Did she see it on a film? Read a book? Did her father or someone hunt and she thought she'd try it? Did she just want an adventure, and overheard someone in a bar talk about hunting? Even if she doesn't know herself, show us that - "The urge to hunt had hit her hard and, while she couldn't explain why, she felt the need for adventure" - i'm sure you can do better than that
"You had some weapons..." You? Who, me? Her? "one" You say "on one's own property" (which is technically right, then "Your, and You" - i'd change the latter to "one's property" or "the property" and "one had" - simply because you began saying it then changed - it's inconsistent. This sentence would work better if, as coat suggested, you were writing in 1st person - like her talking to us, as most people say "if you had" not "if one had". Otherwise, i find this sentence a little clumsy. I liked the drip-feeding of detail that her property is very secluded, however. I'd also consider the phrase "bumf*ck, nowhere" as i find it very characteristic - something a PERSON would say (again, if this was her narration/first person), but as a narrator, it sounds a little too strong for my liking.
And despite living in a trailer, the huntress had plenty of money and a decent collection of weapons. It came with the territory of being a young, tomboyish twenty-something with very wealthy relatives who was interested in guns, tactical gear, wilderness survival, and the outdoors.
Scrap the word tomboyish. Others might like it, but i find it too direct. Better to describe or SHOW that she's a tomboy - firstly it's doubtful that a girlie-girl, with makeup, hair-extensions and a pretty dress would go hunting (saying that I know someone who fits into that architype of "girlie girl" who goes paintballing in the rain haha). You're already hinting at her being a tomboy, so simply keep that up. The way she interacts or shoots, her not being bothered by mud or skinning the critters - this would all help build her up more than saying "tomboy".
"Despite living in a trailer, the huntress had plenty of money"
I'm not sure about this bit tbh. It sounds like you're playing on a sterotype (perhaps intentionally) of trailers being home of down and outs, or a bad thing. Perhaps it'd be better to hint at WHY she lives in a trailer? Does she like the outdoors? Like the peace and quiet? Is it easily towed to another site? Is she from a well-to-do family and grew tired of the comfortable life, so she bought a trailer and lived hard? Hinting toward this would be better than saying it, of course, but I can't help but feel the narrator (and remember the narrator is another character, arguably the most important one) is a little judgmental.
Crows had been the main annoyance lately, flocking all over the myriad trees in the huntress's land in the last day, cawing loudly and overall being a creepy nuisance. Maybe an animal died nearby and that attracted the crows, or maybe they were migrating back north from their winter retreat.
I've removed the first part because I'm not sure about claiming the land as the huntress's. Is it HER land, or is she just living on it? Does she own it, or does she see it as her territory - sort of like claiming it? "In the last day", and earlier "lately" both say the same thing - lately is vague, but "in the last day" is more specific. You can't have both, and i think less is more.
Either way, the crows going down if she could catch them.
I haven't a clue what this is supposed to mean.
But she felt like hunting something, whether it was a squirrel in an oak tree, or a raccoon rummaging through the trash.
What trash? She's in the middle of nowhere, so are there neighbours? doe she leave her trash out? If the latter, then say "rummaging through her trash".
The huntress was shoeless, her soft feet covered by simple white socks and since she was in the middle of nowhere in a hilltop hollow, she simply stepped out in what she slept in the night before, a Creedence Clearwater Revival T-shirt and black cotton gym shorts.
This is a very specific image and I actually had to google it. For those that know, it'd hint at her character, but for those that hadn't heard of them (at least by name), it fell flat. Not saying remove it - there's always going to be some people that might not know what a Glock is, but just be aware of using specific images.
I like the image of no shoes - i assume this is to cut down on sound? Still wearing socks was not expected, but makes sense i suppose. However, "her soft feet" - why do we need to know if her feet are soft? Walking without shoes would likely cause rough skin, and if she's got socks on, would we really know what her feet are like? What if she was barefoot (her feet would definitely not be soft, then!)
The wind gently blew through her dyed red hair as she sat at the picnic table on her front lawn, directly across from her trailer. Clearing her pistol and making sure everything was safe, the huntress then loaded her Glock and began skulking around the green yard, observing the blossoming forest in mid-spring and scanning the beautiful fresh foliage for varmints.
This passage doesn't work for me. You were building the image of her going hunting, then all of a sudden she's sitting at a picnic table? Also, if she's in a trailer in a forest, would she have a front lawn? There's mixed images here and, while they might be nice, it just doesn't fit. I personally would ditch this passage completely, instead working the details like her hair much much earlier on - red hair is blatant, and we'd see that the moment we saw her. I'd already pictured her with darker hair, as readers often do. Think about this detail and when we'd see it. An example would be to look in the now-locked first draft of my Fallout story - Eminence pointed out a scene where a man enters a room, and sees two men. They're shocked and he orders them to do something THEN i saw they were playing cards - the detail's in the wrong place.
The cleaning of the pistol is a nice touch, it shows competence and experience. However, the previous narration is pointing at her ready to hunt - she's got her supplies, she's got her goal, THEN you stop it and pull it back to her preparing again. Perhaps the cleaning of the pistol should be saved for a later date - i can't see how it'd fit in here, as in my opinion, it's broken the flow. I liked that last sentence though, from "skulking" onward.
Soon, she heard the rustling of leaves and then spotted her quarry, a fat raccoon that scurried out from a bush and darted towards the trashcan, sniffing for something to eat.
This is too abrupt for my liking. There's very little build up. She's gone from exiting her trailer to sitting down to suddenly seeing a racoon. I'd rather some build up - show her creeping through the forest, inching forward, head pivoting, eyes darting. Short, sharp sentences. Her breathing, her heart rate. It's a warm day, is she sweating? Is she nervous? excited? Calm?
When she hears the rustling, does she freeze of run? Drop to a crouch or stay tall. Aim with one hand or two, in a weaver stance? The best part of this bit is the jackpot line. The rest just feels rushed - you've done the description now for the action. Where's the build up, the rise of tension? Make me be there beside her, make me lean in on the edge of my seat.
Aiming her Glock, the young huntress kept her still eye trained on the furry bastard and gently squeezed the trigger. A loud bang crashed and rattled through the hollow and the hot lead 9mm bullet darted through and pierced the side of the raccoon, causing a spurt of blood to gush out from the rodent and allowing a small puddle of blood to pool around the masked critter.
Again there's this seemingly judgmental style from the narrator. Bastard. Doesn't work for me, unless the huntress is writing in first person, as coat suggested. I don't like the "loud bang crashed and rattled" - too much description. Instead i think keep it simple. "The shot echoed throughout the valley" or something.
hot lead feels out of place too. I cut the "and pierced" to shorten it down. With the build up of tension and the action, you want the sentences to be like punches. Short and sharp. To the point. No unnecessary words or details. BAM BAM BAM. I do not feel that at all here - instead the moment's gone before it even began. I think this should be broken up a lot more.
Who's badass, uh-huh? I'm badass! I may be a girl, but I can kick ass, I don't care what my useless father or those stuck-up bitches in high school thought.
I like the arrogant style to her here (is this thought or speech?) I'm not sure about "i may be a girl" though, but the following detail is good, nice character building. But why's she saying this to a racoon? Is she trying to prove a point to herself? It started off like a celebration, but took a darker twist. It also hints, very very subtly, that she had trouble at school, and that might explain why she hunts - i like that.
Reloading Checking and clearing her gun, the huntress softly sighed and smiled with a sense of satisfaction on her mind. She went to her trailer, unloaded her pistol and layed it on the picnic table. She opened a can of Pepsi, and sat back on the wooden bench of the table and slowly sipping the smooth cola.
This bit felt very clunky. Clecking and clearing her gun sounds like maintaining it - and after one shot, would you really do that? This is a good moment to have that detail though; after the action, slow things down by having her sit down, open the pepsi and have a sip, then check and clean her gun - get rid of the cleaning shown earlier, and leave it here.
The huntress loved hunting, fishing, camping, and shooting, and was just getting into emergency preparedness and survival. She was a bit of a gamer and an anime otaku, but then again, she was always a tomboy and somewhat more masculine than the other girls in terms of attitude if not necessarily appearance. But as much the huntress loved anime and video games, she loved the outdoors even more and when the sh*t hits the proverbial fan, she was going to survive.
Too much. Too much of a list. She loved this, that and this. Instead, I'd have her enter her trailer, store her gun, and have some details about what laid around - a games console by the TV, a pile of anime magazines, a sketch pad with a character half-drawn. A dumbell sitting on the floor by her bed. Beer bottles on the side. The enviroment will speak much more than listing "she liked XXX" - don't tell us, SHOW us.
When the sh*t hits the proverbial fan? What sh*t? What is she expecting? Is this why she lives out here? What's she ready for - and how? Is there a crate of supplies under her bed? Again, ditch the "tomboy" and "Masculine" adjectives, and instead craft the world to show this to us.
I remember seeing a film ( i can't remember which one) where there was a man or woman alone in some place. They were doing something, but they were talking to themselves - not in a crazy way, but in a way like seeing something on TV and saying "whole world's going to sh*t. Well, i'm sorted" or something. If she lives alone, would she do this? Would she say anything after shooting the racoon (what has she done with the racoon - you couldn't just leave it by your trailer, it'd attract much more critters!) - could she say something that could hint toward her readiness for the "sh*t" that's coming?
"Take that, you damned racoon. If the reds ever come, I'm ready for them?"
The huntress lived alone, but she was fine with that. She had had boyfriends before she moved to the woods of Virginia, but generally felt better by herself in the midst of nature. The woods was her home and she was fine with that. That's why she lived in a single-wide trailer in the middle of hillbilly country, she elected to do so. She didn't want to deal with the madness of the DC suburbs. No, the huntress loved nature. She was like Thoreau in Walden, if Henry David Thoreau was an over-armed, wealthy, video game-playing, anime-watching wannabe survivalist with deep insecurities.
Again, this description feels flat. it's just a list of words, and you're repeating it. Instead one solid environmental or action based detail should carry over. Strangely, I'd already assumed she lived alone - something had given me that vibe. The confirmation was nice, but again it felt a bit too blatant.
The scarlet-haired tomboy got her hunting practice in for the day, and maybe the next day she'd go bird-hunting or foraging for berries and herbs in the forest that her family owned. Who knew?
Right, NOW we know that the forest is one her family owns - this detail would have been welcome a long time ago imo.
Her practice in for the day - i've got the feeling that she literally spent 1 minute hunting a raccoon behind her trailer. That's not giving me a hunting feel at all. I did not feel like I was out in the woods, a distance from her home, stalking prey until the time is right for the one golden shot - some people spend hours hunting, just for one kill. This, to me, felt like GTAV, when as Trevor, i exit his trailer, cross the road, shoot one of the many coyotes that run through the town, then go save the game. This scene all felt - well not rushed, but how long did it last? It feels anticlimactic.
Finishing her Pepsi, the huntress grabbed a shovel and used it to dispose of the raccoon's body by dumping it in the bushes and rinsing off the blood with a hose. She entered her trailer to shower, give her daily prayers to the All-Father Odin, and maybe drive her Geo Tracker into town and get some more supplies.
Previous question about the racoon's body answered but i feel a hunter would bury the body straight away - would she not have skinned it? Does it have meat she could eat? Could she make a hat with it's pelt? Or was she just hunting for the kill, for the sake of shooting something?
Another question is raised again:
Why on earth did she carry a SIX pack of pepsi with her as she shot a raccoon? I thought she'd be hiking a mile up the hill, sneaking around for a few hours, making camp, eating lunch.... instead I get the feeling she walked twenty feet, shot a raccoon that's by her bins, and then went back. Why the six pack? Why carry it?
Today was going to be a good day.